By changing our thoughts, we change our behaviors. The motivation to change can feel like pulling teeth from addiction treatment to getting regular exercise. Motivational enhancement therapy can be a solution for those seeking to vitalize their desires to challenge their behaviors for the better. Motivational enhancement therapy is typically combined with other addiction treatment services.

Similar to CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), a motivational enhancement therapist will work with a patient to identify negative thinking patterns to distance the patient from the narrative that he or she plays in his or her own life.

Those struggling with addiction have challenges controlling their impulses and this can lead to frustration from within that spreads outwards. Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel seems pointless for those who do not recognize the strength they have within themselves.

Motivational enhancement therapy can be an opportunity for patients to recognize their strengths and how their weaknesses play a factor in their development. More often than not, a person was using substances to cope with the stressors of life.  Thus, the motivational enhancement therapist must work to uncover these underlying issues and provide guidance on how to cope with them.

What is Motivational Enhancement Therapy?

Motivational enhancement therapy can best be described as a person-centered approach towards behavioral therapy that can focus on a person’s desire to embody change. The type of substance used and intervention goals play a major role in how effective MET is. 

A therapist trained in MET will guide the patient to see his or her perspective from an objective view to change the outcomes. The patient must embrace these lifestyle changes to fully receive the treatment.

Admitting that you need help for addiction is a milestone in itself. The courage required to stand in the face of stigma and withdrawal symptoms can be isolating for those struggling. It may be difficult to think considering substance use is a mask for coping, along with certain side effects.

Addiction is a relentless disease that can rob a person of his or her sense of control and identity. Thus, addicts may find themselves at the mercy of behaviors that they know are harmful to themselves and others, straining the relationships from within. It’s more than valuable to see those struggling with addiction as medically sick and to recognize treatment as a lifeboat.

Why is Motivational Enhancement Therapy Helpful?

Engagement can be a struggle for individuals in addiction treatment. Taking the first steps towards recovery can leave a patient feeling withdrawn and hopeless in the face of changing a lifestyle they’ve been dependent on. Motivational enhancement therapy can be seen as one approach to engage such patients.

A common motivational enhancement tool is the “life-balance” wheel. When using the “life-balance” wheel, the therapist works with the patient to establish his or her goals, whether they are short-term or long-term in nature. Then, the practitioner will ask questions about what might stand in that person’s way of achieving his or her goals. 

The therapist will use motivational interviewing techniques to allow the patient to come up with his or her own answers about how  he or she can overcome obstacles. The practitioner also helps guide patients through how they might approach future problems without falling back into old habits.

What are the Different Therapeutic Techniques that Motivational Enhancement Therapy Uses?

Motivational enhancement therapy is centered around principles of motivational psychology. Motivation enhancement therapy effectively helps people who have made an initial commitment to change but were initially unmotivated for whatever reason before the treatment. The first stage of motivational enhancement sessions is typically devoted to finding out what motivates a client to change. 

Healthcare practitioners may find it necessary to begin the MET process with motivational strategies or motivational interviewing. In motivational interviewing, the patient is highly involved in what he or she is ready to do and where that person wants his or her journey of recovery to go. 

Through motivational enhancement therapy, a patient can expect some of the following questions:

  • How long they have been using substances
  • What problems they have encountered in their goals
  • When mistreatment could have occurred
  • Future goals, plans, aspirations

After an initial assessment, the MET patient will typically participate in three to four sessions. This approach is not set for a step-by-step process, mainly by encouraging the patient to seek the change that he or she wants. A patient can expect to participate in an interviewing process that focuses on substance use and coping mechanisms.

The patient will seek to understand his or her substance use, what are the consequences of this behavior, how it affects others, and how the patient can prioritize motivational techniques to heal. 

Once completed, the motivational interviewing focuses on exploring ways to overcome barriers that might hinder relapse prevention. This may include linking them with additional resources for support such as support groups.

Crafting Empathy

It’s important for the patient to feel accepted and supported in the MET therapeutic environment. Patients want to feel respected, nourishing the healing process considering what they might have been through.

 Empathy is a gateway for patients to understand how their actions not only affect themselves but the people they love. For example, a patient may begin to feel hopeless after hurting close friends and loved ones.

Division Between Thoughts and Reality

Our thoughts are constantly running through the day, with positive and negative interactions occurring privately. People with substance use disorders may not reflect properly on how their thoughts and actions align with their behaviors. If you have a negative self-concept, then chances are the way you move in the world will reflect that.

Understanding these principles guides patients to realize how their current behaviors challenge their goals. This is vital to the recovery process so the patient can inspire confidence in his or her decision-making.

Resisting Arguments

It can feel counterintuitive for a therapist to make you feel guilty for your compulsive behaviors. Therapists trained in MET acknowledge this and work to provide a judgment-free environment to address your issues. Anything related to change occurs from the patient instead, to prevent the patient from feeling attacked.

Accepting Resistance

The patient may resist these techniques and the therapist must guide the patient through these processes. The patient could resist due to the uncomfortable changes. 

The therapist is there to observe your defensiveness. The trust built during this relationship is what improves the quality of this form of treatment.

Building a Patient’s Self Efficacy

A patient must believe that he or she is capable of change to become the versions of him or herself that he or she envisions.  Recovery is a lifelong process and there is no one else who can do the work for you. 

A therapist will channel these observations into a plan of action with the patient to change his or her life outcomes. Self-efficacy is required to truly practice these new behaviors daily.

How Does Motivational Enhancement Therapy Help Treat Addiction?

Motivational enhancement therapy is an effective tool to rewire the compulsive behaviors of the individual. Those in recovery might have trouble managing cravings, as thoughts of relapse creep in from behind. They may have doubts about how to proceed or if it’s even worth the try. The patient needs to understand that these are normal processes and the body needs to adjust to different thinking patterns.

Motivational enhancement therapy is useful to treat addiction by bringing awareness to the patient’s behavior to process new coping skills. MET has shown promising results in treating marijuana-dependent individuals and alcohol use disorders. 

Nobody wakes up one day and decides to become addicted. Behavior therapies such as MET have been growing in use to combat addiction. The recovery process requires support and understanding from the patient, alongside his or her support system and trained staff.

Addiction is costly, for those struggling and for those willing to treat it. Finding an effective evidence-based addiction treatment program is critical, but there is no singular form of treatment to eliminate addiction.

The human mind involves a complex system of feedback and communication to commit to actions. The physiological changes to the brain from addiction can have lasting impacts, especially for young adults. It can’t be stressed enough on the importance of developing healthy coping skills.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment and Motivational Enhancement Therapy

An overwhelming portion of people with substance use disorders also deal with mental health conditions. This is recognized as a co-occurring disorder. Co-occurring disorders require a different set of treatments to make sure the patient fully addresses his or her condition. If patients don’t receive adequate care, they may end up in a cycle of mistreatment.

Dual-diagnosis treatment is an integral piece of the continuum of care. Recently, dual-diagnosis treatment is being offered to help those with these conditions. Behavioral therapies such as motivational enhancement therapy are commonly practiced to treat co-occurring disorders. This can ensure confidence in the patients, knowing that their needs are being prioritized at such a specific level. 

The 12-Step Program along with cognitive-behavioral therapy takes a similar approach to help people address the root causes of their addictions by creating plans to live alternatively. Motivational enhancement therapy may not be suited for those with poly-drug misuse disorders or substance use disorders with other drugs such as cocaine or heroin.

Find Treatment Through Harmony Ridge

Addiction treatment is a vital resource for those in search of a new beginning from their substance use disorders. The road to recovery is littered with potholes filled with distractions and delays. Harmony Ridge aims to provide a guiding hand during these uncertain times. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please contact us today.